Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sharon Parmley Saves the World One Chink at a Time

Sunny Hi 107 Lo 79 for Baghdad, Iraq
Mostly Cloudy Hi 83 Lo 70 for Northern Kentucky, USA

Before I get started--- Happy Birthday Papaw!!!

Song of the week: Sunday Morning, No Doubt

I was seven years old when I learned the meaning of the word prejudice-- even though I didn’t know the word itself.

It was recess at Allison Street School and I was sitting on the stairs with a group of girls from my class. I was new to the school and painfully shy. I don’t know that I was trying to fit in--- I was just trying not to stick out… Allison Street School as I remember it was an enormous 3 story building most likely built at the end of the 19th Century. I was ecstatic to be going to school. I loved my new teacher, Mrs. Reed. As we were sitting, two older boys walked over toward us all the while pointing at me. I remember looking at the other girls and a few of them just smiled, a couple looked away and ignored them and I distinctly remember that two of them giggled. One of the boys said, “You need to come with us.” I don’t recall being frightened, anxious, intimidated, distressed, sad, angry, annoyed, irritated, or offended… I just remember feeling confused. I slowly got up and the one boy spoke into my ear in a quiet voice, You’re a chink and you’re stupid. You’re our prisoner now.” Each boy gently held one of my hands and walked me over to the chain link fence that surrounded the school playground. There, out of sight of the teacher, they proceeded to tell me to stand against the fence facing the school.
They took my hands and put them above my head through the chain link fence. I was instructed to stay there and under no circumstances was I to leave. If I did, I’d be killed. All I could think was what (the hell) is a chink??? While I stood there, the girls that I had just been sitting with were now pointing and laughing at me. I wanted to die. As I stood there not knowing what to do and feeling completely ashamed, two other boys brought another girl over. Although she must have been a little older than me she was smaller, frailer and in hindsight she was Vietnamese. She was bent at the waist as they guided her to a spot on the fence next to me. I didn’t know what to do… so I looked away… Then the two boys that brought me to the fence brought a boy to the fence. He was also older and he lived at the orphanage. His name was Vincent. He was black. Like me and the other girl, he didn’t fight or speak; he just quietly walked to the fence. He looked over at the two of us and shook his head. No sooner than he was placed on the fence a girl, from the fourth grade and someone I recognized as living in the house behind ours marched over and took Vincent by the hand and pulled him off the fence, she grabbed my hand and the other little girl’s hand. She then gave the meanest look I have ever seen to those awful boys (I try to use that dirty look to this day when someone ticks me off). She walked the three of us over to the jungle gym and looked each of us square in the eye and said, “Don’t ever be afraid of those boys. They’re bullies and mean and think they can be mean to you.” You don’t have to do what they tell you to do—ever!!” Then she walked away and I don’t ever remember talking to her again. Sharon Parmley was the first person I knew to stand up and fight for what was right.

***OK… quick little sidebar… and for the record… Technically, I would not be classified as a “Chink”. A “Chink” would be a derogatory name for someone of Chinese descent. I would fall in the “Jap” category…. Good grief… idiot bigots***

Remember the following when reading the next segment----I’m a proud 1st generation American of Japanese heritage. Michael is a proud 1st generation American of Hungarian (Jewish) heritage. You know my mother’s story. Michael’s father escaped the Nazi’s and the Russians… It’s quite a story what little we know and one I’ll leave him to tell in his own time.

After I posted Anger and Hope I received a lot of feedback, most of it positive. I received a few that knocked the wind out of me. One person qualified their note by stating that they knew it was not politically correct nor was it rational, but went on to write “I want all Muslims dead.” Another wrote, “Anyone that follows Islam needs to be killed.”

What bothered me was the thoughtlessness of these "blanket" statements. This same high strung emotional blubber is what sent Americans of Japanese heritage to internment camps during WWII—those individuals lost all personal possessions, property and dignity, and in many instances their lives defending our great flag all in pursuit of the American dream.

Here is a better example… Lets round up all the Jews…kill ‘em all… Why? Well…because…IT IS THEIR FAULT!!! They’re Jews!!

The other evening Michael and I went to dinner with another couple that we love very much. Over drinks we discussed the hurricane and all the destruction and how horrid the situation was. “John” went on to spew how awful the president was. He was definitely on the bandwagon of “Blame Bush”. I believe he referred to President Bush as an asshole. Michael and I have an agreement. Everyone knows our political views, so when in mixed company (liberals and conservative) we bite our tongues and try to turn the other cheek--- we have a success rate of about 60%. There is one soul in our family that needs to be knocked upside the head… (Anyway… rambling…) Michael countered “John” with, “You wouldn’t sit down to dinner with President Bush if given the opportunity? Out of respect I would sit down with Bill Clinton.” I don’t think “John” realized how hateful he was being and I can’t properly describe it. The diatribe was straight out of the “Michael Moore Hates America” handbook. The venom in his voice, the look in his eyes was truly disturbing. I can’t tell you how upsetting this was to me to see him behave like this. This is a man I love dearly. I later made the comment, The government is not responsible for taking care of us.” “John” said, “IT most certainly is!!…………………………”

It hit me, like a ton of bricks. “John” loves his family. He has some amazing qualities- a lover of the arts, an outdoorsman, fine wine, and good food. BUT, he is a cultural elitist. He believes others are beneath him. He believes he is obligated to take care of those that are beneath him. That is the worst kind of prejudice. “John’s” inability to see his idea of helping is in fact keeping them shackled and dependent upon the government. As long as we provide hand outs and not a helping hand, they will continue to be dependent upon the government and not understand what it is like to be self sufficient and independent and free.

We should have asked him if he would have expected his own children to find a means out of New Orleans. We didn’t. We should have. I would be curious to find out his answer.

Prejudice has no boundaries. Prejudice can be found in a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative or a liberal. Prejudice can be found in churches, synagogues and mosques. Prejudice can be found in the faithful and in the faithless. Prejudice can be seen in private and public schools. Prejudice can be overheard at the grocery store or a five star restaurant. Prejudice can be seen on the evening news...

Prejudice is found in the individual soul and perpetuated by passing on that irrational hate on to the next generation. It is the ugliest most vile trait a person can have.

I don’t know what happened to the four boys. I wish I were noble enough to wish them the best and say I forgave them. I’m not a good Christian that way… They were mean and had no idea why they hated me—except that I looked different… To them I had slanty eyes and yellow skin (I have great olive skin—that doesn’t burn when I go out in the sun all day without sunscreen—HA!)… Yeah… yeah… all good reasons to hate me and “my kind”...

Sharon Parmley… I don’t know where you are, what you are doing, but know this…You stood up alone and helped a frightened little girl learn a tough lesson. I’ll never forget you and I’ll always be grateful….

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
8/28/63

If you haven't seen the movie Crash please rent it. It is a thought provoking film that should be watched by everyone.

"Prejudice is a premature judgment--a positive or a negative attitude towards a person or group of people which is not based on objective facts. These prejudgments are usually based on stereotypes which are oversimplified and overgeneralized views of groups or types of people. Or, a prejudgment may be based on an emotional experience we have had with a similar person, sort of our own personal stereotype. Stereotypes also provide us with role expectations, i.e. how we expect the other person (or group, like all Japanese) to relate to us and to other people. Our culture has hundreds of ready-made stereotypes: leaders are dominant, arrogant men; housewives are nice but empty headed; teenagers are music crazed car-fanatics; very smart people are weird, and on and on. Of course, sometimes a leader or housewife or teenager is somewhat like the stereotype but it is a gross injustice to automatically assume they all are. " More


Welcome home Mikey.

Meet Kenneth Welch. He gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Use this link to find cheap gas prices in your area.

Have a great week everyone.

2 comments:

GNN Staff Writer said...

You're the second person to recommend Crash. Now I've gotta rent it.

Peakah said...

Crash is an outstanding movie!

That's a wild story Cathy. There isn't enough room on the blog-o-sphere to detail all the betrayals, heartbreaks, or abuse based on ones appearance or race or culture that almost everyone who's walked the planet has experienced in one form or another to one degree or another...

It's when college professors shackle kid's minds with this victimology bull crap that I get rialed up.

I had to take those posts down because a friend of mine (the one who issued the survey) was hurt that I dared discuss and breakdown her professor's intentions.

I think when people become hypersensitive about racism, it makes them overly patronizing. Aren't those people totally annoying? Anyway... I'm just tired of the 'oh you hurt my feelings' back and forth that happens when you bring this issue up rather than rationally breaking it down and getting to the real root of the issue, which isn't based on feelings. It's based on control. Mostly political. At least as far as I see it... what do I know?